"MasterChef" star Graham Elliot celebrated his 155-pound weight loss by running his first 10K race in Chicago on Memorial Day. Elliot, 37, finished the race with an impressive time of 1 hour and 16 minutes.
It's a major turnaround from last year, when Elliot was a 405-pound couch potato who could barely walk around the block without panting. He's now training for the grueling Chicago Marathon. “I’m publicly saying I’m doing the marathon so excuses are not an option," he told People. "This is a real commitment.”
While Graham loves how much his appearance has improved, the celebrity chef said health — not vanity — was his primary motivation for undergoing gastric sleeve surgery.
The 6-foot-1 Elliot got bariatric surgery in July 2013, and has since slimmed down from 405 pounds to 250 pounds. Graham underwent a sleeve gastrectomy (or gastric sleeve surgery) and has never felt or looked better. Elliot said he was surprised how quickly he shed the weight, because he thought it would take two to three years to lose 155 pounds.
In gastric sleeve surgery, three-quarters of the stomach is removed to create a small sleeve-shaped stomach, about the size of a banana. In 2012, comedian Lisa Lampanelli lost 106 pounds after undergoing the gastric sleeve procedure. And Rosie O'Donnell lost 50 pounds just eight months after gastric sleeve.
Bariatric surgery has soared in popularity, as studies show surgery beats diet and exercise for producing dramatic weight loss and reversing diabetes and heart disease. There are many emotional disruptions that accompany post-surgery weight loss, according to Weight Loss Surgery For Dummies.
Ironically, some people experience severe depression despite becoming skinnier than they've ever dreamed, which underscores that losing vast amounts of weight is as much an emotional journey as a physical one.
'I Get Full After Eating Two Scallops'
Graham decided to get gastric sleeve surgery after failing to lose weight for years through diet and exercise alone. He credits daily workouts and six small meals a day for his weight-loss maintenance success.
While bariatric surgery has its share of risks and inconveniences, Elliot said the procedure has completely changed his relationship with food.
"I definitely have smaller bites than before, and I was nervous about getting too full," he said. "I’m finding that I eat and get hungrier sooner than I expected. I don’t know if it's just because the real estate is smaller in my stomach, but I’ll eat two scallops and feel full, then an hour and a half later, I need to eat a small salad.”
In addition to a portion-controlled diet, Elliot also works out every day and runs regularly. He said exercise has transformed his body. “I’m still around 250 pounds but I have put on a lot more muscle," he said. "My arms are really strong and I’ve been very healthy.”
Graham now plans the 2014 Chicago Marathon with his fellow "MasterChef" judges, Joe Bastianich and Gordon Ramsay, who are both marathoners.